Teaching With GDevelop Since 2018! - Interview with Thomas Ricordeau

Marcos Codas

Marcos Codas

Thomas' students using GDevelop.

Thomas' students using GDevelop.

It's a fantastic day today, as we get to speak with one of the first educators to adopt GDevelop in their classroom. Thomas Ricordeau is a graphic design teacher from Marseille, France. He's been teaching with GDevelop since 2018! So, let's see what's been like to use GDevelop for 5 years as an educational tool, and why he prefers it over other alternatives.

Why did you choose GDevelop to work on your own prototypes, as well as with your students?

Initially, I was an Adobe Flash user. I created games with this software. When the era of Flash games ended, I looked for a straightforward solution for game development. I tried various game engines, including Unity, Unreal, and Construct, but I wasn’t fully satisfied due to their heavy or complex system. Another key aspect for me was to find free software, as I strongly support open licenses. The icing on the cake was that GDevelop was created by Florian, a fellow countryman!

From an educational point of view, GDevelop proves invaluable. It's versatile, compatible with both Windows and iOS systems, regardless of the computer's power. Being open-source, it offers a great opportunity to introduce my students to these licenses. Moreover, the non-coding approach is crucial for graphic-design students who are not computer programmers.

To put it in a nutshell, GDevelop fulfills all my requirements for building prototypes. To my mind, it is an excellent tool for educational use.

You've been using GDevelop for a long time. Do you think the software has evolved? What are your thoughts on GDevelop's direction over the past years?

To tell you an anecdote, I sent a message to Florian Rival many years ago, maybe in 2018, and he came to Marseille for a workshop with my students, perhaps one of the first. Since then we have used this software to build all our prototypes!

Florian, GDevelop's CEO, giving a workshop in 2018.

Florian, GDevelop's CEO, giving a workshop in 2019.

The software has evolved significantly, with improvements in its no-code system, UI, functionalities, extensions, and more. The transformations have been huge. I am thoroughly satisfied with the direction the software has taken. I particularly appreciate the store, examples, starter kits, and video tutorials. The forum and YouTube are the core of the community; I've found help and active contributors there.

In your view, what are the advantages of using open-source software in class?

As mentioned earlier, open-source offers flexibility. Students can easily install the software on their computers, avoiding complications linked to OS, hardware, or school network authorization.

Courants divergents, by Madelyne Peteuil, one of Thomas' students.

Courants divergents, by Madelyne Peteuil, one of Thomas' students.

I value the comprehensive access available in the free version. Embracing open-source aligns with my philosophy, as I prioritize free software like Blender, Krita, LibreSprite, and Audacity. Moreover, the open-source software landscape is now mature enough for professional use, making it a compelling investment for future designers.

Since you're a graphic designer and artist, do you still find the built-in Asset Store useful? Or do you and your students use only GDevelop's programming features?

The built-in Asset Store remains a valuable resource for expediting prototyping and enhancing my classes. It allows students to download elements like UI icons easily or to learn how to create their own sprites through examples. For our projects we design our own graphic elements. We also work with a professional musician to design sounds.

The GDevelop asset store has thousands of free and premium assets to get you started quickly.

The GDevelop asset store has thousands of free and premium assets to get you started quickly.

What are your two favorite projects from the past 5 years working with GDevelop?

We’ve made two interesting projects. One is a platformer centered on social and solidarity economics for MACIF insurance, which also exists in a board game format. The other comprises interactive story scrollers focusing on Mediterranean Sea biodiversity, a collaboration with Parc National des Calanques and GREC SUD, an ecological research association.

We strive to develop ethical and non-commercial projects with organizations lacking the budget for such endeavors. When feasible, we pursue hybrid digital-analog creations. For the Prospéricité project, we partnered with La Platine, one of the last traditional printers in Marseille, incorporating QUADRIFLUOX color process. This initiative combines craftsmanship with digital art.

Prospéricité, by Thibaud Satgé.

Prospéricité, by Thibaud Satgé.

If you could choose 2 new features for GDevelop, what would they be?

I have a few ideas. Firstly, incorporating a Final State Machine (FSM) system directly would be beneficial. The current method of building external events for this purpose is not very practical.

Secondly, enhancing the collision system to support multiple boxes would be an asset. Lastly, integrating a puppet animation system would be fantastic. Currently, I'm working on beat'em up prototypes, and there isn't an ideal engine for such projects.

This work can be labor-intensive and frustrating, particularly due to the lack of appropriate tools, especially for 2.5D games involving platform and top-down elements. Last wish, there is a comeback of beat'em up and I noticed that there are a lot of requests to build a system of this type, a template would be really great… I’m working on it ;)

What advice can you give to educators who would like to integrate programming in a graphic design/art environment using GDevelop?

The initial steps must be straightforward. Start with starter kits to build simple platformers while benefiting from tutorial assistance. This collaborative learning approach allows both teachers and students to gain proficiency. For more complex projects, it's essential to secure human and technical resources. Developing a pedagogical strategy, mastering the software, and giving tasks collectively are crucial. In my team, I specialize in software, while my colleagues excel in areas like animation, storytelling, sketching and electronics. We use electronic devices such as Makey-Makey or Arduino for some prototypes.

Graphic design students creating assets for later use in GDevelop.

Graphic design students creating assets for later use in GDevelop.

I've dedicated much personal time to explore GDevelop's tutorials, which significantly elevated my skill level. A genuine passion for video games is essential for deeper engagement. Personally, I'm a fan of classic 2D fighting games, and studying their design techniques is truly fascinating. Think of games from Technos, SNK, Capcom, Taito, Konami, and Sega that thrived under technical limitations.

Lastly, integrating video game design in an educational context is a great opportunity to transmit culture and skills across generations. It sheds light on lesser-known aspects of video game industry for younger students and emphasizes concepts related to hardware and efficient technology use. This combination of culture, technique, and socialization embodies the essence of design.

Some games published :

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